My river basin district

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'Don’t divorce the river from its basin.' H. B. N. Hynes (1970)

This is the basic principle of the Water Framework Directive. Water quality, biological conditions and the amount of water flowing in a river ultimately depend on what happens in the river basin.

Under natural conditions rivers would all have good status, but unfortunately human activities in the basin over thousands of years have considerably altered many of our rivers.


The WISE public viewer picks up this focus and presents environmental data at European level as part of the nationally designated river basin district ('My river basin district').

Information and data are currently available on:

  • river basin district and their management bodies;
  • water quality, as measured by the European state of the environment reporting;
  • bathing water quality for all designated European beaches – both coastal and inland;
  • initial data on the treatment of urban waste water in the EU-15 Member States.

This current snapshot should be seen as a starting point for informing and taking measures on the environmental conditions in the area.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) utilises the river basin as the natural unit for water management. Each river basin within a Member State must be assigned to a river basin district (RBD). Member States are responsible for coordination of administrative arrangements for water management in relation to each RBD within its territory.

What is a river basin district ?

A river basin district is an area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and possibly lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta. It also constitutes an area of land and sea made up of one or more neighbouring river basins together with their associated groundwater and coastal waters — if applicable. Moreover, it is identified as the main area for coordinated water management.  In addition, coastal waters shall be identified and assigned to the nearest or most appropriate river basin district up to one nautical mile beyond the baseline from which the Member State's territorial waters are measured. Local authorities (competent authorities) will have the primary role in promoting, establishing and implementing these projects.

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